With the arrival of humans in New Zealand some 1,000 years ago, many of our bird species became extinct and more continue to be threatened by the destruction of habitats, introduction of weeds and animal pests.
New Zealand has become known for its expertise in threatened species management, including better pest control, extending protected areas on land and sea, and restoring offshore island sanctuaries. This work, which continues to be done, has had a marked effect on re-building the populations of these national treasures.
This stamp issue featured six New Zealand and one French threatened bird, including one of our national icons - the kiwi – and the world’s heaviest and only only flightless parrot – the kākāpō. The New Zealand birds were selected with the assistance of the Department of Conservation.
There were two 40c stamp designs, the first was the French joint issue stamp, selected by La Poste, featuring the lesser kestrel/faucon crecerellette Falco naumanni. This small bird was well known for its distinctive ability to hover on the wind while hunting for its prey. The decline of its population is due mainly to the use of pesticides, reducing their prey and resulting in accidental poisoning. The second 40c stamp featured New Zealand’s handsome and colourful orange-fronted parakeet/kākāriki Cyanoramphus malherbi, only found in the beech forests of north Canterbury and Fiordland.
The 80c stamp featured the black stilt/kaki Himantopus novaezelandiae considered to be one of the rarest wading birds in New Zealand. The majority of the existing population resides in rivers in the Mackenzie Basin of inland South Canterbury. Their main predators are ferrets and cats.
The Stewart Island sub-species of fernbird/matata Bowdleria punctata stewartiana was illustrated in its natural habitat on the $1.10 stamp. Fernbirds are not strong flyers, they are secretive and inquisitive by nature and reluctant to leave cover. Their tendency to fly low and feed close to the ground makes them vulnerable to predators like rats and cats.
Over the last 20 years, the kākāpō population has declined. The Department of Conservation has managed to increase the population. Still critically endangered, this bird is the only representative of a unique sub-family - Strigops habroptilus - which means ‘owl-like’. This refers to its unusual soft plumage and facial disc of bristle-like feathers. Its main defence is its mossy-green and yellow feathers, which provide it with camouflage.
The last two threatened birds in this issue were the North Island weka Gallirallus australis greyi, once a common sight in New Zealand, and the Okarito brown kiwi/rowi Apteryx mantelli ‘Okarito’ – the rarest of the kiwi. In 1998, the population was reported to be 140 birds and this year it had been estimated at 160 to 200 birds.
This miniature sheet was produced for inclusion in the Threatened Birds limited edition. Each sheet was individually numbered from one through to 2,000.
Product Listing for Threatened Birds - Joint Issue with France
Click on image to enlarge.
|Date of issue:||4 November 2000|
|Number of stamps:||Seven|
|Denominations and designs:||40c Orange-fronted Parakeet, 40c Lesser Kestrel, 80c Black Stilt, $1.10 Stewart Island Fernbird, $1.20 Kakapo, $1.50 North Island Weka, and $1.80 Okarito Brown Kiwi|
|Stamps and first day covers designed by:||Paul Martinson of Masterton|
|Printer and process:||Southern Colour Print of Dunedin, by offset lithography|
|Number of colours:||Four process colours|
|Stamp size and format:||30mm x 40mm, horizontal|
|Paper type:||104gsm red phosphor stamp paper|
|Number of stamps per sheet:||25|
|Perforation:||14 x 14|
|Special blocks:||Plate/imprint blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least two stamps from a sheet. Barcode, value blocks and logo blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least two stamps from a sheet. Barcode blocks were available in both A and B formats.|
|Period of sale:||These stamps remained on sale until 3 November 2001.|